Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I have so many things to be thankful for right now. I cannot imagine my life without the love and support of my friends, my family, and people I may never even meet.

Adopting has always been a dream of mine. It is something that I have wanted to for as long as I can remember. When Matt and I began dating I was quick to share with him that not only did I want biological children, but that some day I would have a daughter from China. Luckily, I was blessed with an amazing husband that has supported that dream of mine. Through the years after the birth of each of our children, adoption was still there in the back of my mind. But everytime we discussed it, the one and only factor that always kept us from moving forward what the money.

Once Gabe was born due to complications during my pregnancy I knew that I was done having children. To be honest, I was pretty certain our family was complete. Obviously, God had other plans for our family as we are still growing.

When we started the process to adopt Mylee again it was the money that was always the issue. After looking over our finances, we were pretty certain that it was doable especially since the wait was three years (we originally knew nothing about the SN program). So, we started the paperwork and just a few days before we were to officially turn in our application our agency called wanting to know if we would be interested in a SN child. Honestly, it was something that I had never heard about let alone even considered. She was quick to explain to me exactly what "special needs" meant to me in the adoption world. So after giving me more information on a little girl that was about 18 months old and had club feet, I hesitantly agreed to look at her file. Matt was at work so I began reading over her medical information not really understanding what I was reading. I was somewhat familiar with club feet only because my mom was born with it as well as Matt's cousin. Neither of them have any issues today so I knew it was something that was correctable with no long term effects. After reading her file and doing some brief internet research, I opened her picture. What I saw staring back at me was our daughter. I don't know how to explain it and I know this sounds crazy, but the little girl that was staring back at me was the little girl I pictured in my dreams. She was everything I had envisioned, the same silky black hair, the same light brown skin, and the same beautiful almond shaped eyes. I could not wait for Matt to get home so I could share everything with him.

Long story short, despite the fact that instead of having three years to come up with the $25,000+, we only had about nine months. We were petrified because we didn't have it. We had enough for the application and to accept her referral, but nothing else. It was with complete faith that we stepped out and accepted the challenge that was being placed in front of us. It took nine months from start to finish to bring Mylee home. It took alot of trust and faith, alot of hard work, and alot of patience. We were so lucky that Matt's job was working overtime, he was able to get quite a few side jobs, and I was able to to take on a few more day care kids. Between all of that and one grant for $5000, (we were lucky enough not to ask family and friends for help) we were able to have all the money we needed to bring Mylee home. It was because of Mylee's adoption that my faith strengthened. It was Mylee's adoption that really and truly opened my eyes and really made me understand that with God, all things ARE possible.

So, was with complete faith that we once again answered the call to open our hearts and our home to another of God's children. Unfortunately, this journey has not been as smooth as Mylee's. We have hit brick wall after brick wall. We have jumped more hurdles than I care to mention. We have been on a never ending roller coaster of emotions, complete with highs and lows. Our journey to Drew is about to come to an end, and end I welcome more than you know. But, once again, it is the money that stands in our way.

With all of that being said, since today is Thankful Thursday, I have SO many people to be thankful for...

First and foremost, God for not only walking this path with us, but for having enough faith in us to allow us to parent All of our children. Not everyone is called to parent, and not everyone is not called to adopt. But knowing that He chose me to be the mother of 4, almost 5 children is certainly something to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my husband. If it weren't for him, none of this would have been possible. It is his love, his strength, his faith, his patience, and his hard work that has gotten us this far. Adoption was not something he thought about or really even wanted. But because he knew how important if was to me, he helped me turn my dream into a reality. When I first approached him about Drew he looked at me like I had worms crawling out of my head. But it didn't take long for him to come around and for him to once again open his heart to another child.

I am thankful for the family members who get and understand what we are doing and why. Unfortunately we do not have the support of all of our family members, and that is okay. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that not everyone "gets it." Last fall when Matt was laid off I cannot even begin to tell you how many times we were asked if we were doing the right thing by moving forward with Drew's adoption (I admit I asked myself this a few times). At first I would get so angry that they would even ask because I knew that if I were pregnant it would not have been an issue. I have said this before, and I will say it again. In a sense, adoption is very similar to being pregnant. The same emotions are there, the excitement, the worry, the anticipation. The only real difference is from a physical stand point. I don't have the weight gain (well not as much), I don't have the stretch marks, I can't feel my child moving in the safety of my womb, and unfortunately, I don't have to go through the physical pains of labor. The end point is that although two of my children were born half way around the world to another woman, in my heart, they are no different than my three biological children. So to those family members who think we are crazy, who don't "get it," or who simply are not on board, you are entitled to your opinions, but before you judge us remember this;

The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. This most essential foundation of the practice of adoption is found in gospel.
Galatians 4:4-5 is as central a gospel statement as there is: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

I am ever so thankful for my friends who have been a tremendous amount of support. From those nearby to those far away, and to those I may never meet (through blog land). Although most of you think we are "crazy" too, you are the ones who have been there to lend a shoulder to cry on. You have been there to celebrate as we jumped hurdle after hurdle. You are the ones who we confide our innermost fears and excitement too. You are the ones who rally around to make sure we will have all that we need to bring Drew home. You are the ones who say "we may not understand, but we will be supportive in any way."My friend and neighbor was listening to me "gripe" the other day about how it frustrates me that it is our friends who have been the biggest support. Her response was pretty straightforward, "sometimes it is your friends who you need to call family."

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same."-- Anonymous

Right now I am so very thankful to all those who have generously donated something to our fundraiser, for those who have left comments, to those who have spread the word, to those who have donated monetarily, and to those who may have nothing other to give right now other than a prayer. I have seen several thousands of dollars raised in a very short amount of time to help bring a child home. So I can't really say that I am shocked my the response we have gotten with our fundraiser what I can say is THANK YOU, thank you to each and everyone one who has in one way or another helped us out. Today, I am SO thankful for you. Because of you, we are 1/4 of the way to our goal!!!

It is because of you that we will soon have this precious boy in our arms, in our home, and in our family.

The above picture was sent along with Drew's monthly update:

Drew is 3 Years 11 Months Old.

Drew’s foster mother wrote this update:

Drew is doing well this month; he is full of energy and absolutely adorable! One morning when he woke up, he told me happily, “Mom, I want to wear my green coat today.” He then went to put on his coat and boots and when he returned, he asked, “Mom, do I look good?” Of course, he looked adorable, so I complimented him, “Drew, you are very handsome. You look just like a soldier!” You could see how proud he was as he continued, “Mom, I want to sing you a song.” He proceeded to wave his arms as he loudly sang, “We soldiers are special, for the green uniforms we wear.” What a super star we have on our hands!

Now, head on over to the fundraiser blog because I just added a new prize and will be adding more soon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Black and White Wednesday ~Brothers

I am really enjoying participating in Lisa's Black and White Wednesday. To learn more about Black and White Wednesday and to see other great b & w pictures, go here.

the long road

We are all so excited to get Drew home but I think of all the kids Gabe is by far the most excited. From the moment we first told Gabe about Drew to now, he asks all the time "when is it going to be time to get my little brother?"

Don't get me wrong, Blake is a fantastic big brother but with an eight year gap in ages it is hard on both of them. They have their moments when all is right in the world of brotherhood, but they also have their moments when all is not right.

We started out telling Gabe it would be after Christmas before Drew would come home. Well, Christmas has come and gone and Gabe forgets nothing. After questions about why Drew isn't home yet we began telling him that it would be after Mylee's birthday. Okay, that hasn't worked yet either since Mylee's birthday was last week. So, now we are just reverting back to the whole as soon as we get all the money (which is pretty much the truth).

Oh how I LOVE this boy. We have a clear jar with a picture of Drew sitting on our kitchen counter. It's the "Drew Jar." Whenever we find money around the house (washer, dryer, couches, etc) we put it in the jar. Every Friday I empty the change out of my wallet and of course the bottom of my purse, and dump it in the jar. Gabe is always eager to put money in the jar which usually follows with him asking "now do we have enough to get my brother?" In fact, the other day I found him pulling the cushions off the couches.

Me: "Gabe, put the pillows back on the couches" (I thought he was making a ramp of some sort)

Gabe: "I can't"

Me: "I'm sorry, you what?"

Gabe: "I said I can't."

Me: "Why?" (at this point I thought maybe he was looking for a game)

Gabe: "Cause I'm looking for money for the Drew Jar."

Me: "Oh, did you find any?"

Gabe: "Yep" (as he walks to the jar to put the change he found in it)

Me: "You gonna put the cushions back on the couch?"

Gabe: "K, will you help me, mommy?"

Did I mention how much I love this boy? Soon enough he will have his little brother home. I cannot wait to see Gabe face to face with Drew.

We are still short quite a bit of money and anticipate traveling in April. I have created a separate fundraiser blog that has some really great prizes available. As a matter of fact, the prizes are being updated daily as more people are donating items. Please visit the fundraiser and with a suggested donation of $10.00, you will not only help us bring our son home, give a little boy a forever family, but you will also make Gabe a very happy, proud "Big Brother."

More Items Added

I just finished updating Drew's fundraiser blog with more great prizes. I am being contacted daily by friends, family, and complete strangers that want to help us bring ours on home by donating something. So, to see the newest additions to the fundraiser blog please go here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Snapshot Sunday ~ Drew

This picture was taken shortly after Drew was taken to New Day. He is about 8 months old here. Look at those cheeks.

I have no idea how old he is here. I should, but I don't. I love this picture because although he is still a baby, he is starting to look more like a toddler. When I see this picture I think about the first steps he took that I missed. It breaks my heart to know that I wasn't there when he rolled over for the first time. My heart aches knowing that I wasn't there to praise him when he took his first steps or said his first word. I wonder what his first word was? I may never know.

This is the picture that started it all. As soon as I saw his picture I knew he was ours. Looking at this picture was like looking at an ultra sound for the very first time. Remember that feeling? . That is the feeling At first the agency said his needs were more than we could handle, but I spent all weekend staring into these eyes knowing that he was our son. And on that following Monday I pretty much insisted that we be able to look at his file. I spent all day Monday and Tuesday going through his file praying that God would show me a sign that this child was indeed our child. Sure enough God delivered. You can read all about it here.

On March 11, 2009 Drew turned 3. This was taken a couple of weeks before we saw his picture for the first time. He looks so big here and is obviously proud that he is 3. This is another milestone of his that we missed. When we started this process my goal was always to travel by the time he turned 4. Unfortunately that is not going to happen. Drew will turn 4 in about two weeks, without his forever family. The only thing that is comforting my heart is knowing that no matter what, this WILL be the last birthday he celebrates without us.

This is Drew and Elva. Elva works at New Day and she and Drew share a very special bond. When I see pictures like these, it me so grateful that Drew is at New Day. Although I may not have been the one that heard his first word, or watched him take his first step. I wasn't the one he ran to when he was scared or hurt. Just knowing that he had people like Elva, his foster family, and all the New Day staff makes the wait to much more bearable.

This picture was one that we received in our monthly updates on Drew. Yes, we are so blessed to receive these updates. We have been told that Drew is a loving, caring child. He is smart, affectionate and love to help others. He loves to eat and he has a great sense of humor. He is going to fit in just fine with the rest of our clan.

We are hoping to travel the first part of April, unfortunately we short some of the travel expenses. I have created a separate blog for Drew's fundraiser with some really great prizes. In fact, later today I will be adding even more prizes. I have seen the adoption community pull together do amazing things to bring these kids home. Please at least take a minute to check out Drew's fundraising blog to not only get the chance to win some awesome prizes, but to unite a little boy with his forever family.

Ni Hao Y'all

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's Up and Running

For those who have asked for an update on where we are at with bringing Drew home, here you go.
As of Tuesday all of our paperwork has been signed, sealed, and delivered (I hope) to our agency's in country advisor. Because of Chinese New Year almost all of China is "shut down." Luckily everything opens back up Monday which is when our paperwork will make it's way to the US Consulate in Guangzhou. Two weeks later on March 8th, our paperwork will be picked up from the US Consulate and be forwarded on to the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs). Once it is in the hand of the CCAA we will wait for them to issue our TA (travel approval).

So, we are expecting our TA sometime in March and hoping and praying for an early April travel date for two reasons. One, since Blake is going with us, his spring break fall during the first week of April (that way he doesn't have to miss as much school) and two, there is a big trade show in China beginning on April 13 and running into the first week of March. Because of the trade show the flights to and in China as well as the hotel rates are more than double. There is NO way we can afford that so we would have to delay travel until sometime in May. UGHHHHHH!

Which brings me to my title, "It's Up and Running." I want you all to go here for a chance at winning some pretty incredible prizes through an online fundraiser we are holding to help us bring our son home. If you follow the directions to a T, you should walk away with several entries, most of them FREE!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black and White Wednesday ~ 4

Once again it is time for Lisa's Black and White Wednesday. For more great black and white pictures, go here.

Mylee turned 4 on Monday February 15th. I wanted to post about her then, but things here have been so crazy that I just did not get the chance. I did manage to post a slide show of pictures yesterday. Oh, and for those that asked, I did not make her cake, but I do take full responsibility for the design.

It is hard to believe Mylee is now 4. I think it is hardest for me to grasp simply because I missed the first two years with her plus, she is the tiniest little thing, she does not look 4 at all. Mylee is an absolute joy and such a blessing to our family. Mylee is smart, happy, spunky, spirited, affectionate, determined, and she can be very stubborn. She loves to craft and scrapping paper (her version of scrap booking). She loves to dance and sing and play with her babies. She loves to go into Blake's room and dance to his stereo. She adores Emma and tries to anything Emma does. When Emma is at school Mylee asks about her constantly. Mylee and Gabe are the best of friends one day and each others worst enemy the next. They are truly brother and sister in every way. Mylee is definitely a mommy's girl, but here recently she is ready and waiting to go with daddy (which is SO nice). Even though Drew is not yet home, Mylee is one proud big sister. She loves to tell anyone who will listen about Drew, her "Chinese brother."

Mylee is an amazing little girl and I am so blessed and lucky to call her my daughter. I cannot imagine our family without her. For years I dreamed of Mylee, I dreamed of her almond shaped eyes, her light brown skin, and her silky black hair. For years I wondered if my dream would ever become a reality. On a hot, sunny July afternoon I sat at my computer staring into the eyes of a beautiful little girl. She had almond shaped eyes, light brown skin, and hair as black as the night's sky. She sat in a walker dressed in yellow with the most serious look on her face and beads of sweat on her forehead. Staring back at me from my computer (I have to say that I have chills as I am typing this) that day was not just my daughter, not just any little girl, but THE little girl from my dreams. It was the same face, the same eyes, the same skin, and the same hair. It was then, through the tears in my eyes, that I knew without a doubt that she was our daughter and we were about to begin the journey of a lifetime.

Mylee has only been a physical part of our family for 21 months, but she has been in our hearts always. It is hard to realize that she has only been with us for 21 months because it feels like she has been with us forever. It is hard to think of a time when she wasn't a part of our family.

I don't think I can end this post without thanking the two people I admire so much, Mylee's birth parents. We know very little about the first few days of Mylee's life. We will never know the circumstances of her birth, or why she was abandoned (we can only assume), but what we do know based on the information we do have is that Mylee's birthmother/father loved her very much and only wanted the very best for her. It is because of their love for their child that we are able to call Mylee our daughter. It is because of their selflessness that we were able to turn a dream into a reality. So, I ask you today to say a prayer for Mylee's birthparents that they have peace in their hearts and are some way aware of the decision they made 4 years ago has not only changed Mylee's life for the best, but for the lives of those she has and will touch.

Mylee, we love and adore you more than you may ever know. You are an inspiration to us, and a dream true. You brighten our days with your smile, you melt our hearts with your hugs, kisses, and multiple "I love yous."

For more birthday pictures scroll down to the previous post. If you haven't already seen it, you must check out the cake, it was gorgeous.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Miss Mylee is 4!!!

Mylee's birthday was yesterday but we celebrated on Saturday with family and friends. Whenever anyone would ask her what she wanted, her response was always "Chinese party with a Chinese Barbie."

The cake turned out better than expected and Miss Mylee was more than pleased. All in all she had a great day/weekend especially since Sunday was not only Valentine's Day but also Chinese New Year.

Enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Calling Anyone and Everyone...

This is pretty much going to be short, sweet and to the point. Many of you know the struggles we have had these past few months in bringing Drew home and many of you have stepped up and helped us out. There is no way that Matt and I can thank you enough for all your thoughts, prayers, and donations. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful support from friends, family, and some we have never even met.

If you are new to our blog you can go here to read how God opened our hearts to adoption once again.

I am once again calling on you, my family, my friends, and my fellow adoptive parents to lend a hand. I am in the process of putting together a fundraiser for Drew to help with the remaining costs to bring him home. Unfortunately, like so many other adoption fundraisers, we simple don't have the money to offer elaborate prizes such as cameras, laptops, or gift cards. So, that is where you all come in. I have been contacting several Etsy shops and have been surprised at just how many are willing to donate and help us out. As of now I have about 10-12 great prizes for the fundraiser. But, I want/need more. Since we are not able to go all out, I want several prizes for people to get excited about. So, if you have a talent, a hobby, or know someone that does, please contact me at:

I am hoping to have the fundraiser blog up and running by next week. I should probably also mention that payapl no longer allows raffles to be used, so the wording will be a suggested donation. And this time, each suggested donation of $10.00 will get you one entry, or you can get 3 entries for $25.00. And as always, you will get bonus entries for 1. posting about our fundraiser on your blog, and 2. for leaving me a comment. Oh, and if you do happen to donate something, well that will also automatically get you an entry.

Just to let you all know where we are in the process of bringing Drew home, the only thing we are waiting on now is our Article 5 and our TA. Thankfully (and I cannot believe I am typing this) Chinese New Year starts Sunday which means most of China shuts down for about 2 weeks. Why is that a good thing you ask? Well, as much as I want to get on a plane and fly to China to bring Drew home, we simply don't have all the money we need. I have estimated that we will probably receive our TA sometime in March and am really hoping to travel the first two weeks in April. One reason is that since we are taking Blake, his spring break falls during the first week of April. The second reason is that there is a trade show in China beginning on April 13 and the hotel costs are more than double during those three weeks. There is no way we will be able to travel during then so please, say a prayer that 1. we are able to raise the amount needed and that 2. we are able to travel BEFORE the trade show.

Happy weekend to everyone. This is going to be a busy weekend for us. Saturday Emma makes her First Reconciliation, then Saturday afternoon we are having Mylee's birthday party (I can't wait for you to see the cake). Oh, and lets not forget that Sunday is Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Black and White Wednesday ~

Well, it is Wednesday, and you all know what that means, Lisa's Black and White Wednesday. To find out more about Black and White Wednesday, go here.

I was going through some pictures this past weekend and came across this picture of Matt and Mylee. It was taken last spring at the baseball diamond during one of Gabe's t-ball games. The quality of the picture is not great, but I LOVE it anyway. I love how you can see that Mylee is really hanging on to Matt. I love that because Matt's hands are so big Mylee is only able to hang on to one finger.

may 123

Go check out Lisa's blog for more great Black and White Wednesday posts.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Black and White Wednesday ~ Sisters

Once again it is time for Lisa's Black and White Wednesday. I was going through some pictures the other day and came across the pictures of when Mylee met everyone for the first time at the airport. Mylee loves her big sister and has looked up to her from day one. Emma is a great big sister to Mylee. As soon as Emma walks in the door Mylee is running to her. Just the other day as Emma was walking in the door from school Mylee ran to her and said "Hi Emma, how was your day? What did you do today? I missed you." Emma got down on her knees and told Mylee all about her day.

Emma is such a big help with Mylee. If I need to get something done I can always count on Emma to occupy Mylee either by reading her a book, playing school, or whatever else they can find. When Emma has homework, Mylee will find her notebook, climb up next to Emma and do her "homework" as well.

Mylee and Emma share a room. Many nights I will go in to check on them before I go to bed and I usually find them in bed together. Just last night at 3:45 a.m. Mylee came in our room and the first thing she asked was "where is Emma?" I told her she was in bed and Mylee said "no, she not in her bed." Well, Emma had gotten in Mylee's bed last night and Mylee didn't even know it.

I look forward to watching these two beautiful girls share a lifetime of memories together. I know not every waking minute is going to be blissful, they will fight and they will become annoyed with each other. But, at the end of the day no matter how many tears may be shed, they are and will always remain sisters. As they get older the tears will turn into laughter and the fighting will turn into bonding. They share their secrets with one another, their hopes and dreams. They will share a bond like no other because they are SISTERS.

Meeting for the very first time~